Wild West May Halt Warriors Championship Ambitions


Golden State Warriors Media Day

The internet almost went into meltdown when Kevin Durant exercised his right as a Free Agent, and headed to Oakland. The Warriors instantly became a ‘Super Team’ and the consensus is that come Playoffs, they’ll own the Western Conference, but the 2014-15 NBA Champions may be heading for a heartbreak…

The outcome of a Basketball game is largely determined by available talent and match-ups, and not necessarily in that order. The biggest challenge Golden State Warriors will have, is the way they match up against some teams in the West. A good example are the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies have defeated the Warriors twice this season, and here are the reasons:

Warriors lack a hard-nosed Point Guard. One of the reasons Warriors lost to the Cavaliers last season was Kyrie Irving. He wasn’t available when Warriors won the 2015 Championship, and was massive for Cavaliers in 2016. Mike Conley matches up well against Curry who is not a pure Point Guard, and come Playoffs Curry will be sorely tested again, if they meet.

Right now Warriors are like Donut, they have a hole in the middle. Again, Golden State have a match-up problem here should they meet Grizzlies. Marc Gasol is an elite Centre, and will likely obliterate Zaza Pachulia, Javale McGee or Anderson Varejao. Andrew Bogut’s numbers dropped at GSW from when he was at Milwaukee, but he will likely face-off better against Gasol. He left Golden State at the end of last season. Zach Randolph is a banger. So is Draymond Green, and Green will likely edge this battle. But when Randolph is fired up in the paint, precious few can live with him. Green will likely win the finesse battle, but the money will be on Zach to win the bruising part. And Z-Bo is not even a starter.

This leaves Warriors with the option of shooting their way out of trouble, as they out-match almost anyone in that department. The danger in that is that no team can shoot at a high level every game in a Playoff Series. There will be cold nights when you will need to grind your way out of holes, and Warriors do not look like a grinding team.

If all else fails for the Warriors, they will rely on their rapid ball movement and hope the dead-eye shooting of Klay Thompson, the magical (circus) shots of Curry, and the incredibly pure shooting of Kevin Durant, will save the day. The challenge is: when a team out-matches you, ball movement becomes almost impossible. 

The San Antonio Spurs are learning this in their duels with Los Angeles Clippers, the Warriors may be taught the same lesson by Grizzlies in the Play-offs.

NB: I wrote this mid-January. The theory is about to be tested by the best team in the NBA over the past 20 years. Bring on the Western Conference Finals!

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